Overbearingly heavy and uncompromising, Cardiac Arrest from Chicago specialize in a strain of death/grind that, for better or worse, has crawled back into the obscurity it initially arose from, after a brief resurgence in the early 2000s. Inspired by the likes of Massacre, old Master, old Death, Cannibal Corpse, Impetigo, and Cianide, along with a big helping of traditional grindcore, but amplified in sonic density like little else in the underground today, Cardiac Arrest remind us of the fun, adrenaline-drenched element that has been lost to death metal over the years. While the band’s guileless, full-steam ahead attitude makes for a certain monotonous nature to their music, and the songs aren’t complex enough to warrant their lengths at times, listeners will be better served approaching this material with a slightly adjusted frame of mind. Cardiac Arrest play death/grind in the true sense of the term, borrowing heavily from the simplistic chord movements of grindcore and hardcore music, but skillfully grafting them onto a death metal aesthetic to create relatively seamless output.
In the early 2000s, Razorback Records specialized in this field, assisting bands inspired by macabre movies and tongue-in-cheek gore in creating a less adult alternative to the hellfire and brimstone fare available otherwise. Catasexual Urge Motivation, Engorged, Lord Gore and Frightmare, all released albums that could be enjoyed, or not, depending on how seriously you took yourself. Like all fashionable things, however, Razorback soon lapsed into caricature, and then latched onto several other trends as they developed over the years. Finland’s twin projects, Claws and Hooded Menace, helped to recover the label’s floundering reputation somewhat with their brand of tastefully performed death and doom. Cardiac Arrest are yet another unsung ace in the label’s more recent stack, doing away with the cartoon factor and horror movie intro laden fat of ten years ago for a far more concentrated agenda to bash the listener’s head in. There is a good time to be had here but it isn’t predicated on an interest in things extraneous to the music.
Like grindcore, Cardiac Arrest rely predominantly on multiple iterations of micro-riffs (attention-deficit phrases that instead of evolving into anything more elaborate seem to give up at the first turn and say “fuck it”) stacked atop each other, thus preventing these songs from developing any kind of narrative aspect. In this sense, the music may seem a little gratuitous, conveying little of significance beyond the immediate moment. Where Cardiac Arrest excel, through lack of artifice, is at injecting songs with a very visceral, immediate energy. Ironically, the lack of sophistication in songwriting turns out to be a fail-safe mechanism for the music in this regard, preventing the band from going astray from a well-defined path. Within such strict parameters, and performed wth unrelenting ferocity, Cardiac Arrest can usually be relied on providing a solid half-hour’s worth of unpretentious, bare-knuckled grind-infested death metal.